Detroit's Plowshares Troupe Prematurely Shuts Down King Hedley II

News   Detroit's Plowshares Troupe Prematurely Shuts Down King Hedley II
Plowshares Theatre Company, Michigan's major African-American Equity troupe, shuttered its new production of August Wilson's King Hedley II after only four performances.

The board of trustees of Plowshares Theatre Company and artistic director Gary Anderson cited a winter storm and lack of ticket sales due to a weak local economy as the reasons for the 11th-hour premature closing following performances Feb. 8-11. The Detroit News gave the production a glowing review, but the decision to shut down had already been made.

"I think the real issue here is the economy," Anderson told, citing joblessness and industry flight that have plagued Michigan and Detroit in recent years. "We usually have resources to help us get through [when there are below-average ticket sales], but that wasn't the case this time."

Anderson said he hopes to remount the Wilson drama in the future. It was to run Feb. 8-March 4. Plowshares lost about $50,000 on the enterprise, which was staged at City Theatre in Detroit.

Plowshares presents at various spaces in Detroit and continues to search for a consistent home. Given the economy, Anderson said, the hope of buying a permanent home is a distant dream at the moment.

In times of economic crisis, theatres tend to mount smaller shows, or more commercial titles, but Anderson said King Hedley II wasn't the problem. "The content doesn't have anything to do with it," he said. "If people are broke, they're not going to come out to see black folks singin' and dancin'." Next up for Plowshares is Wedding Band by Alice Childress, directed by Anderson, March 22-April 15, at the Boll Family YMCA on Broadway in Detroit.

Plowshares Theatre Company is a nonprofit 501(c)3 arts organization formed in 1989 to produce plays and programs that inspire, exhibit, and affirm African American life. Since its inception, Plowshares has served the people of Southeastern Michigan by providing an artistic forum for the discussion of tolerance and creating awareness between communities.

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